The Emperor’s New Clothes

By popular acclaim this is the worst summer's weather ever. David Randall debunks that myth

Share
Related Topics

Drip, drip, drip, drip. Is it the sound of rain falling from drenched trees? The steady rhythm of overspill from blocked guttering? Or precipitation's drum-roll on the canvas of our tents?

No, it's the incessant noise of the weather whingers as their sense of climatic entitlement is foiled by an entirely typical British season. "This," they pout (and the tone of voice implies a hand on hip and the stamp of a tantrumy foot), "is the WORST summer ever!"

No it's not. It's not even close. It's not 1816, truly the "year without a summer", in which the ash and sulphur dioxide from the eruption of Tambora in the East Indies so dimmed the sun and toyed with weather systems that there were worldwide crop failures and food riots in England and Wales. It's not 1931, cloudy and wet from May to the end of September (highlights: a tornado in Birmingham, and Boston, Lincolnshire, getting a quarter of its annual rainfall in one morning). It's not as dull as 1954, short-changed from an average summer's sunshine to the tune of 130 hours, with poor old Plymouth having only one day warmer than 21C. Nor is it as stormy as 1956 (gales in July, snowploughs shifting hailstone drifts four feet deep in Tunbridge Wells). I could go on.

But I won't. What I will do is point out there are silver linings. The volcanic debris scattered around the upper atmosphere from 1816 onwards gave Turner fluorescent sunsets to capture in oils. And poorer summers are invariably followed within a year or two by exceptionally good ones – a sort of climatic clearing of the throat, if you like. This, regrettably not guaranteed or forecastable effect, meant that, after the lowering summers cited above, there were golden ones in 1819, 1933, 1955 and 1959.

So stop whining, and enjoy these months for what they are: a summer in which, as we head past the solstice, fields and hills are as green as you're ever likely to see them; a country in which the dessicated landscapes threatened by the pitiless heats of March have been saved by the soothing waters from summer skies. Above all, as the captain of the Titanic was reputed to have said when confronted with a rather more serious inundation: "Be British!"

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Teacher

£100 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: IT teacher required immediately...

IT Security Advisor – Permanent – Surrey - £60k-£70k

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

IT Assistant - Windows XP/7/8, Networks Firewalls/VPN's

£20000 - £23000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Assistant - Windows XP/7/8, Netwo...

KS2 Teacher

£100 - £140 per day + Flexible with benefits: Randstad Education Group: Key St...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Abortions based solely on gender are illegal in Britain  

Abortion is safe, and it should be as available as easily as contraception

Ann Furedi
Photo issued by Flinders University of an artist's impression of a Microbrachius dicki mating scene  

One look at us Scots is enough to show how it was our fishy ancestors who invented sex

Donald MacInnes
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album